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Location: Minneapolis, MN

Dempsey is a Golden Retriever puppy who is in training to become a Helping Paws service dog for an individual with a physical disability. He lives with his parents Doreen and Paul, and Bailey the cat. None has ever trained a puppy before. These are their adventures. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the blog author. The contents of this blog have not been reviewed or approved by Helping Paws, Inc.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Operation Overlord

We finally had a chance to return to the beaches of Normandy and the site of “Operation Overlord” - the D-Day landings during WWII. We arrived in the pouring rain and as we approached the shore, the sun broke through and a double rainbow appeared on the horizon. The sky remained cloudy and the light the rest of the afternoon was unusual. At one point, the sun broke through a cloud and a single ray of light lit up an area a few hundred feet off shore. We tried to capture these images with the camera, but it isn’t quite the same. Apparently, the weather in this area is often stormy and the D-Day landings were actually postponed a few days waiting for the storms to pass.

As you know, in 1944, the Allies (Britain, Canada and the USA) decided to dislodge Hitler and liberate France from the German occupation. Apparently Hitler suspected an invasion would come via the Normandy beaches, but a double agent was able to convince him the attack would come on Calais. As a result, Hitler bulked up troops in this area instead, leaving Normandy somewhat exposed. The rest, of course, is history.

The beaches are, well, beaches. There were several German tanks remaining in carved out shelters; you can also see the remains of a mulberry - floating harbor - brought from England. But you will also find a golf course, an RV park and a beach resort in the same area. It was rather surprising, though the beaches encompass a huge area and I suppose not all of it can remain in 1944.

After we walked the beaches of Normandy and stopped by the American cemetery, Paul decided to head south toward a less-visited American cemetery in a town called St. James. This cemetery marks the point where the American forces broke through from Normandy into Brittany – the breakout of Avranches - and the ultimate liberation of Brittany. There are 4,410 Americans here, according to the official count, most of whom died in the Normandy and Brittany campaigns in 1944. The sculpture "Youth Triumphing over Evil" on the east end of the Memorial Chapel was designed by Lee Lawrie of Easton, Maryland. The inscription reads: "I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7)

It is a beautiful area and it felt like an appropriate place to honor the memory of the Americans who gave their lives so far from home.